E-cigarettes are now the most popular tool to quit smoking in Wales but experts have said “if you don’t smoke, don’t vape”.

This comes after a 16-year-old boy from Nottingham suffered “catastrophic” respiratory failure thought to have been caused by vaping.

Doctors in Wales have said people who see tobacco as safer than tobacco should do so “at their peril."

In Wales, 17% of the population smoke, which is down 2% since 2016-17, and 6-7% vape.

Around 7% of the Welsh population vape and half of them have quit smoking

In the past year, more than double as many Welsh smokers chose e-cigarettes as their quit smoking aid, compared to patches or gum, and 50% of vapers have quit smoking entirely.

Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) has said e-cigarettes are 95% safer than cigarettes and “as an alternative, vaping is far less harmful.”

However, she was clear that vaping should only be used as a way to quit.

We need to make sure we are focused on driving down the people who smoke in Wales rather than reducing the number of people who vape

Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH

ITV Wales spoke to a manager of a vape shop, Anthony Pitt, who was confident that the UK regulations are safe.

He said that The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are notified six months in advance before products are sold to the public.

He added: “If there are any issues with the [vape] liquids they just don’t land on the shelves."

But what is vaping and is it safe?

Vaping involves using electronic-cigarettes or other devices to inhale a vapour which often contains nicotine and flavourings but not tobacco.

Health bodies say vaping is much, much safer than cigarette smoking and smokers should switch to e-cigarettes.

However, studies suggest vaping in itself can cause damage to the lungs, heart and other tissue.

Long-term studies on the risks are not yet available.